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  • You're not too old, and it's never too late

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I have to begin today's posting by giving credit for the image I've used here. I've been reading up on covering my ass and staying out of legal trouble when downloading images from the Internet, so this picture is courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net. :o) Thank you, Stuart! And Free Digital Photos!

Now, why the "Top Secret" stamp? Because secrecy and all that it entails has been a major part of my life, and perhaps someone reading this may be able to identify. And for anyone who is living secretly in some way will understand what I'm saying here.

I've wanted to be a writer since I was very young. In fact, while cleaning out my parents' home recently, we discovered two pieces of writing I did when I was eight years old. One was a Haiku poem I'd written for my younger brother, and the other was a paragraph detailing the challenges of getting published. How I had any knowledge this issue when I was eight is beyond me, but that piece has become rather prophetic in my writing life. I'm getting that piece framed, and I plan to hang it above my desk here in my office once my husband finishes the built-ins he started for me last spring:



Anyway...I used to write secretly in my room. I kept many journals, which I've long since discarded. I hand-wrote a 250 page "novel" between the ages of 13 and 17. I kept this work in a green, 3-ring binder and hid it deep in the recesses of my closet. I'd pull it out and work on it every now and then. It wasn't anything great, just about my life at the time. I switched around the birth order of me and my brother and sister, and I made my parents distant and un-involved, much like the parental characters I saw in teen movies. Because I kept my writing ambitions to myself, and because I feared being "found out," I tossed that green notebook in the trash when I left for college. I cried when I did it, but the fear of being discovered while away at school was too much for me to bear. I was a journalism major for a short time in college, but I didn't want to be a journalist. I tested out of the requisite Freshman composition course and tested highly in the areas of English and composition, but that would've meant my majoring in English, and the only thing I could do with that degree (back then, I believed) was teach, and I didn't want to do that, either. Had I been more open and honest with an adviser, especially, perhaps he or she could have steered me in a better direction. Nowadays, I see many Creative Writing degrees and programs offered at different schools. I would have loved to have had that option when I entered college. Instead, I went on to become a nurse and that's a whole other chapter I won't go into here. LONG story short, here I sit, writing and submitting, no longer working as an RN. Secrecy kept me from chasing my real dreams.

The other area of my life in which secrecy has played a big role is in my eating and food issues. Now that I'm working with an eating disorders therapist, she has helped me understand why I keep these issues in particular, secret from those closest to me. It has a lot to do with shame, but it's embarrassing to admit to people why I choose the foods I do and for what reasons. I'm not going into them here because I'm still dealing with trust issues, etc but the fact that I'm writing a memoir about my ED and putting it out here on my blog is HUGE for me. I'm betting that anyone with an ED understands what I'm saying here, and I hope if you're such a person you feel comfortable commenting below and sharing your feelings/experiences here.

So that's my big "own it" for the day: secrecy and how it has impacted my life. While it's difficult for me to be completely open and honest about certain things, I do have to admit that coming out about writing has opened many doors and put me in contact with some great people--my writing groups, to be exact, not to mention how supportive my immediate family and very close friends have been. By keeping my writing to myself I wasn't giving them enough credit or the chance to know my authentic self. If I hadn't punched through the secrecy barrier I wouldn't have allowed these people into my life. So if you happen to be living secretly with any area of your life, take it from me: start slowly by opening up to those you know you can trust, and before you know it, you may be splaying your guts out on a blog for the whole world to read.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Amy. I just wanted to say again how much this post and your frankess speaks to me-- you're much braver than I am right now. (But, I'm trying to be). One of the things that occurs to me about my own ED secrecy is that a) I tend to be a person that people come to with their problems. I like to and am able to help other effectively that it often never occurs to them that I might not be okay. (maybe some relevance there with your past work as a nurse, maybe not). b) I am deeply private and when private people feel like they're doing something wrong or undesirable, that desire to keep everything secret just multiplies exponentially. Because I'm ashamed enough as it is, let alone the shame of other peoples' awareness c) Keeping things secret means you don't have to worry about failure to accomplish what you desire. You never told anyone that you hate _ or loved _, so you gave yourself permission not to try and change that thing or pursue that goal. Being secret, for me, was as much protecting my privacy as it was sidestepping the idea that I could fail at something so important. But you hit the nail on the head with this post and gave me a lot to think about. So, I'm grateful to you.

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  2. Thank you, Mary. Your comment means to much to me. My yearning to be a "real writer" and touch others is what drives me now, so I can't tell you how grateful I feel to you for sharing with me! I hear everything you're saying here. I get it, totally. Shame drives so much of the secrecy, doesn't it? I especially hear what you're saying in point A of your response, but I have to tell you, I learned something during a church sermon a few months back that really spoke to me and that is if we are "helpers" by nature, and we are the ones who like to help and "rescue" those in need (whatever situation that is) we, too, need to ask for help when we need it. And this, is difficult for me as well. I'm a helper. I love to help others. But God forbid I need help. Then I feel weak and ashamed and like I should be able to help myself, and keep things private and work it out on my own. But my rector (priest) said not asking for help is a form of pride. When he said that I couldn't believe my ears because I would have never, for one minute, considered myself prideful. After that lesson, I came to see things differently and opened myself up to asking for help. Shortly thereafter, I admitted to myself that I had some serious food/eating issues and I sought professional help. I've since opened up to a few family members and friends (quaking in my shoes the whole time!). By your commenting here, you've already opened up to someone (granted, I'm on the Internet, and you don't know me) but this is a step in the right direction--for both of us. This is the hard work for us--sharing with others. I'm feeling a little better each day, and I hope you are as well.

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